The Duke City Marathon is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I signed up for this race when I was looking for someplace I could use my unused ticket from Missoula. That ticket was on Alaska and oddly enough Alaska Airlines doesn’t fly to ABQ. A couple of my CA Cruiser pals were running Duke City, so I decided to go ahead and by a ticket on Southwest and join the party. Since ABQ is a short flight from LAX I was able to save a Friday night hotel stay by leaving LAX at 8:30 a.m. and getting to ABQ before lunch. It turns out one of my friends was on the same flight. We had both scored A group boarding passes for the flight and hoped to sit together. We were chatting in the waiting area and didn’t realize they were boarding. We looked up just in time and ended up being the last two people on the plane. Needless to say we ended up with center seats, boo.
We got to ABQ and were able to check in early at the host hotel, the Doubletree. We immediately went next door to the convention center to pick up our bib, D-tag and t-shirt. Somehow, my friend’s registration hadn’t gone through. She didn’t show up in their records. Thankfully she had brought along a copy of her registration and a copy of the cancelled check. Calamity aborted.
Four of us had dinner at an Italian place, Villa de Capo’s. It was a decent meal, just average Italian food, nothing special.
The starting line was on 3rd Street just across from the Convention Center. We were able to stay in the hotel lobby until just a few minutes before the race started. The temperature was a reasonable 48 degrees. I had only packed my Marathon Maniac singlet, so I purchased a previous years long sleeve tech shirt at the expo the day before for $5. I figured I would never wear a shirt from a race I hadn’t run and I could toss the shirt when it warmed up without too much of a guilty conscience.
The starting line area only took up a very small section of the city block. Reports on the web indicated that this years race was the largest ever. Last year there were approximately 500 finishers. Add the relay teams to it and there was mayber 700 folks in the starting corral. There was never any jockeying for position in this race. We were off and running by 7:01. It took about 20 seconds to cross the starting line.
Much of this race is run on the bike path next to the Rio Grande River. The first and last three miles are run on the streets of ABQ. This is a very good thing, because most of the folks in ABQ seemed to be quite oblivious that there was a marathon going on. This was the 27th event so I would think that they would get used to having about 3 miles of city streets closed down the 2nd weekend of October, but apparently not. There were quite a few folks upset about the street closures.
Apparently the bikers are not happy about the marathon either since they seemed to be less than thrilled to be sharing their bike trail with 700 or so runners.
I was bopping along quite nicely for quite awhile. My miles spits for the first 13 miles were:
9:20, 9:22, 9:42, 9:21, 9:11, --, 20:07 (included a bathroom stop),9:06, 9:18, 9:50, 9:01, --, 17:32. Doing quite nicely so far. The course was a simple out and back, reminiscent of my training runs along the bike paths I run regularly in SoCal. On the way back things continued to buzz along ok for a few more miles. By now the long sleeve had been removed long ago, at mile 6 or so and the sun was shining brightly. The bike trail offered little protection from the sun. The next few miles ticked off like this: 8:05 (had to have been mismarked), 15:06 (see), 9:56, 9:33. This was mile 17 and then things took a turn for the worse. I began to see more people walking than I’ve ever seen at this point in a race. Mile 18 and beyond went like this: 10:47, 10:04, 11:01, 11:16, 11:57, 12:42, 13:58, 15:45, 19.51 and then thankfully it was over. I walked much of mile 24 and 25. My friend Margaret caught up to me around mile 25 and walked with me a bit. I decided we should start running again but I just couldn’t keep up with her so I let her go and started walking again. By now the temps were in the mid 70’s, not quite ideal marathon conditions but not the worst either. My final time was a not quite expected 4:42 (unofficially).
I’m not completely sure what happened, but I can’t remember a race where the wheels fell off so completely and so quickly. It could have been that I ran two marathons only two weeks apart, but I’ve done back to back weekends in the past with much better results. I could have been the elevation. ABQ is actually higher, on the books, than Denver. Could have been the arid climate leading to dehydration, but I felt like I did a decent job of drinking water at most stops and Gatorade at the rest. I only took two gels and a couple of blocks but that is about normal for me. Who knows for sure. All my long runs in 2010 have been sub-par if not disastrous. I wonder if there are long term negative effects from running the LA Marathon in March with bronchitis. Who knows?
Overall I enjoyed the race, because I really don’t mind the out and back format. Since the crowd spread out fairly quickly it was sort of like running a glorified training run at home, except with water stops and a medal at the end. The race was pretty much devoid of spectators unless you count the unhappy drivers and cyclists. ABQ is a funky little city. Our route took us down the main drag, Central Ave and then down Laguna a residential area with some pretty nice upper middle class homes and then onto the bike path which was pretty much deserted except for the ROTC kids that manned the aid stations every mile. One highlight of the race is that we got to see about a dozen hot air balloons take off in front of us around mile 7 or so. All in all, it was a nice way to get New Mexico added to the 50 states list. After the race, we went over to Old Town ABQ and had a great Tex-Mex meal at the Hacienda Restaurant.
I am currently sitting in the airport, less than 7 hours after finishing trying to catch a flight to Kansas City. Sadly it has been delayed so I won’t get there until nearly midnight. I have to be on the ground running, as the saying goes, at 8:00 for customer visits over the next couple of days. I follow that up with at trip to Las Vegas for work next weekend and then another trip to Europe the first two weeks of November. I think I will take the travel schedule as a much needed break from running and the get started at the end of November to ramp up for training for the Austin Marathon in February.
I since landed in KC and posting this before hitting the hay.